Friday, October 16, 2009

High School Yearbooks and Gender Performativity

Ceara Sturgis is a lesbian student at Wesson Attendance Center in Jackson, Mississippi. In addition to being gay, she chooses to express her gender in a traditionally masculine way. One example? She wears boys' clothing.

At Wesson Attendance Center, students take yearbook pictures in formal attire- tuxes for boys, drapes for girls. Clearly, the high school imposes a strict gender dichotomy upon students; females are to present as women, and males are to present as men.

Ceara Sturgis refuses to follow this tradition- she wants to wear a tux. Why can't she blur the gender lines a bit? School authorities won't allow her to appear in the yearbook unless she wears a dress.

Ridiculous. If Sturgis wants to wear a tux for her yearbook picture, her decision should be respected. Likewise, if a male felt more comfortable wearing a drape for his senior picture, his choice should be honored. In a world where gender exists in a continuum, Wesson Attendance Center's rules are simply too limiting.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Food AND Feminism: House Party for The Advoctes for Human Rights

Today I had the privilege of attending an open house fundraiser for The Advocates for Human Rights. The event featured State Representative Michael Paymar- a key player in the recent changes in sex trafficking laws- as the main speaker. Rep. Paymar also recently served an important role in the Battered Women's Justice Project.

We listened to Rep. Paymar's inspiring speech- a call for further action- while sipping warm mulled cider from large mugs. Upon further exploration of the quaint buffet table, I discovered the most delicious artichoke dip I've ever tasted. Accented with black olives, it was the perfect combination of creamy and tangy.

Overall, the afternoon proved to be a wonderful success- the Advocates raised a good heap of money to help fund upcoming Women's Human Rights projects, I met several key people in the community, and we all enjoyed the delicious home cooking of our generous hosts.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Double-Daring Book for Girls

There has been a continued craze with The Dangerous Book for Boys series. Inside the first book were fun, constructive activities and lessons for young boys- how to build a tree house, how to tie a variety of useful knots, and short lessons on famous battles in history. The book was well received by parents and young boys alike.

Ten months later, the publishers came out with an edition for young ladies- The Daring Book for Girls.

Come on. Dangerous vs. Daring: which would you rather be? Shouldn't we be pushing girls more towards the dangerous end of the spectrum (and for that matter, bringing boys back toward daring end)?

As if the titles weren't bad enough, the contents of the Girls' book is horrifying; how to frost a cake, secret note-passing skills, and how to turn a perfect cartwheel...
Reviews of this book were less than stellar (we can thank the well-educated, enlightened consumers for lambasting this edition).

My confidence in American progress returned when they introduced The Double-Daring Book for Girls. (Okay, so the title is still lame). Inside lay a treasure of knowledge: how to run a magazine, how to say "no," even how to become the President of the United States.

"This," I thought to myself, "is a book I will let my future daughter read."